Soda is searching for ambitious female entrepreneurs from around New Zealand to apply for its new seed grant competition – Rise Up – and be in to win $10,000.

Sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, Wintec and Chow: Hill Architects, Rise Up is targeted at Kiwi female entrepreneurs – regardless of their age, where they live or how much business experience they have.

Soda is a business growth ecosystem that provides support, programmes and connections for ambitious Kiwi entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow and succeed. Soda is based in Hamilton, but its services are available online and nationwide.

Since its inception in 2009, Soda has helped more than 800 businesses from across New Zealand. The businesses that Soda has supported have created more than 400 jobs and raised $20 million worth of investment.

Soda started running seed grant competitions in 2020, in response to Covid-19 when it realised businesses needed a quick cash injection to keep moving. Soda has facilitated four seed grant competitions, distributing $32,000 to 13 businesses across New Zealand.

Erin Wansbrough
Erin Wansbrough, Soda Inc. Chief Executive.

“We know that women have phenomenal business ideas as well as the ability to transform these ideas into successful businesses. At Soda we work with inspirational female founders and business mentors every day. However, women are still heavily underrepresented in entrepreneur statistics so our hope it that Rise Up will remove some of the barriers that prevent more women from becoming entrepreneurs and encourage more women to create their own success story,” says Soda CEO, Erin Wansbrough.

Applications for Rise Up open on 1 July 2021 and close on 30 July 2021. Five female entrepreneurs will be selected to go through a founder-focused workshop series on topics such as storytelling, owning your brand, pitch coaching and raising capital as a female.

The competition will culminate in a pitch night on 25 August 2021 where the five finalists will pitch their business idea to a panel of high-profile judges. Runners-up will receive one-on-one mentoring with Soda’s industry experts and the winner will receive $10,000 cash to help propel their business to the next level. The event will be open to the public with guests encouraged to vote for a People’s Choice winner.

Emily Heazlewood, Director Partnerships and Growth – Snowball Effect, judged one of Soda’s seed grant competitions and said: “Seed grant competitions are an opportunity to develop connections, obtain support, and be introduced to strategic people in the industry to help your company accelerate. Soda does an excellent job of assisting businesses in positioning and presenting themselves in order to generate enthusiasm and action. While judging I’ve been amazed by companies who have hustled hard to get to where they are with so few resources.”

To find out more and apply, go to

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